The western end of Kanaha Beach is known as Kite Beach. Just a few minutes from Kahului Airport, This beach is the jewel of the north shore. Kite beach offers a variety of conditions to suit different levels of riders. There is a long curving sandy beach that is great for beginners. The side-onshore winds bring the beginners safely back to shore. The area closest to the beach lies inside a protective reef, keeping the water flat in the beginner’s area. A little farther from shore the waves start to break and create a great venue for intermediate and advanced riders. In winter, the largest waves breaking on the outside reef are strictly for expert riders only. The wind at kite beach blows all year round. The steadiest and strongest winds blow through the summer months. In winter the winds can be more diverse, and larger kites are often used. Occasionally Kona winds will blow from the south, creating an offshore at Kite beach. Kite Beach Maui has more windy days than any other kiteboarding destination in the world. The valley in central Maui creates a wind tunnel effect that funnels the wind into kite beach, in a better direction and strength.
This is the western end of Kitebeach. The beach adjacent to the dirt parking lot is used by the kite schools. Aerial Photo of Kite Beach, Kanaha, photo courtesy of www.bluehawaiian.com
Kanaha Beach: Kanaha Beach is about two miles long, the majority lies within the Maui County’s Kanaha Beach Park. There are several beach areas in the park that have different designated uses. It is important to respect other beach users, and other water users. Try to learn the different uses of each of the areas and you will avoid any problems with other users. This beach is shared by different groups within the community. All of which have the rights to use these areas. However some restrictions do apply to specific activities as defined by County and State and Federal law. The general layout of the water areas are illustrated by the diagram below. Please note that there is no windsurfing or kiteboarding allowed before 11am. Also there is a specifically designated area for beginner windsurfing from 9am to 11am.
This is an aerial view of the Kanaha beach showing the special use areas.
The Kite Beach: The Kite beach is roughly divided into two areas, the upwind end to the east is known as “old hale beach”, “Old Mans Beach”. It is the area closest to the old Girl Scout pavilion structure. This area is west of the lifeguard tower, and launching and landing is done below the campground area. At the downwind end of this stretch of sand, is at “Naish” beach, and is accessed via the “Keyhole” parking area. The most western end of the zone there is a series of 5 rock groins around Ka’a Point.
Ka’a point: The Western (downwind) end of Kitebeach is the area below Ka’a point. On the western side of the Point is a sandy beach known as “Pro Beach” which is an excellent launching area, especially in northerly winds. This area is also used by fishermen and families, so always give them plenty of room, or move to another location if it is crowded. There is room to launch one kite at a time on the narrow sandy isthmus. Kiters should take care to avoid the rock pile (island) after launching. The point has smooth water on the inside due to the wind shadow created by the island. This makes it a favorite area for advanced riders to do their tricks, and the island gives photographers a unique vantage point.
Please Note: The “pro pool” is the small bay, not the enclosed pond used by swimmers and fishermen.
Kiters riding in and out of the Pro pool have a local rule that could be called the “Pro Pool Rule”. and that is to “Give way to the incoming rider who is setting up for his trick”. Outside of the pro pool area the normal kitesailing rules apply. Due to the limited space at the pro beach area. Kiters set up their kites away from the launch area. the setup rigging area is in a wind shadow behind the ironwood trees. Kiters set up their lines on the downwind side of the kites. (take care) and the kites are closest to the point. that way, when a kiter is ready to launch, the kite can be moved into position very quickly.
The Rock Pond east of the island is a swim zone: The Pond area enclosed by rocks is a swimming zone, and no kiteboarding is permitted. Kiters should not transit through this zone. Always give way to swimmers, and fishermen, and never kite over the head of Swimmers and non-kiters.
Bone Yard: just offshore from Ka’a point is the Boneyard. The Bone yard is an area of very shallow reef that actually gets exposed at low tide. This area can be crossed at high tide, but kiters should take extreme caution when jumping or crashing near this area. Also any beginners should not even body drag through this area.
Hazards to watch for:Take particular care when kiting near any of the rocky areas. Many unwary kiteboarders and inexperienced persons have been stuck on these rocks. Never attempt to jump the rocks, and it is not recommended to attempt to ride into the rock-pool or between the island and the shore.
Action Beach: Just downwind of the storm-water canal is the launching area known as action beach. There is a large red dirt parking area separated from the beach by a row of shade trees. Always lock your car when parking here. The wide beach has plenty of room to set up kites, and this beach is used by most of the kite schools. This beach is a great beginner area. This section of beach is mostly sandy, and is long enough for beginners to get in a good long run. Because the beach curves around, and the wind usually brings everything back to shore. There are a few submerged hazards and shallow areas to watch out for, so ask a local kiter for the known hazards before launching here. The Action Beach Launch: There is an invisible vortex in the wind created by the trees at Ka’a point. This dirty wind makes launching at the upwind end of Action launch challenging. Watch how the locals launch here, and ask them for some advice if you have not launched here before. It is not recommended to walk upwind with your kite in the air. At kite beach, there are trees close to shore (and turbulent wind). so it is not recommended to walk upwind whilst flying your kite. The trees next to the shoreline have claimed many kites over the years.
This is a view (looking East towards Ka’a point) of the Action Beach launch area at Kanaha (Kite Beach). Photo: D.Dorn
This is a view (looking West) of the Kiteboarder launch area at Kanaha (Kite Beach 2002). Photo: D.Dorn
This is a view (looking West) of the Kiteboarder launch area at Kanaha (Kite Beach 2013). Photo: S.Dorn
Water Treatment Plant: The rocks at the water treatment plant mark the downwind end of this beach. Kiters should attempt to come ashore well upwind of the rock wall. A safety buffer of two kite line lengths is recommended between any object. If there is no-one to catch the kite at the last beach. Kiters must do a self-exit before getting to the beach. The wind at the downwind end of this beach is more onshore that at the launch, so the distance between the kite and the beach closes very quickly. If you cannot land safely at this beach, there is a last chance beach beyond the rocks, that is used in case of an emergency landing or equipment failure. if you get stuck on the last chance beach, you should deflate your kite, and hike back along the path on the top of the rock wall. Take care not to rip your kite on the fence.
Rules and Guidelines: With the increasing popularity of kiteboarding, kiteboarders on Maui see the need to step up self-regulating efforts to keep the sport growing in a positive direction. In addition, all kiteboarders are under specific FAA waiver stipulations.
Maui Kiteboarding Map
The 11 O’clock rule: Maui County requires that windsurfers and kiteboarders observe the 11 o’clock rule , which was adopted by windsurfers, fishermen, spear fishermen and swimmers in 1988. That rule allows for swimmers and fishermen to have exclusive access to the ocean on the north shore prior to 11 am. After 11 am, when the winds pick up to near-full strength, windsurfers and kiteboarders have shared access, while watching out for any fishermen who may still be practicing their sport. If you’re planning a kiteboarding trip to Maui in the near future, please stop by any of the windsurfing/kiteboarding shops when you arrive and pick up a copy of the safe riding guidelines brochure.
FAA Rules: As you can see from the aerial photos above, Kanaha beach lies close to the Kahului airport. The Federal Aviation Administration FAA, has rules regarding the airspace surrounding the airport, and some of these rules specifically relate to kites. Below is a list of rules that kitesurfers must observe when kiteboarding at Kitebeach Kanaha.
The FAA waiver stipulations that all kiteboarders must comply with:
No maneuvers shall be performed over persons or property not involved with kiteboarding activities;
No kiteboarding in the 2 mile long by one mile wide corridor at the end of the runway in Spreckelsville (see map);
The waiver is applicable and only valid between the hours of official sunrise and sunset;
All kiteboarders operating within the area from Ho`okipa to Waihee Point shall be responsible for seeing and avoiding non-participants; and
The kite will not be operated 125 feet above sea level.